This has been a good month for The Historic Elitch Theatre. The preservation foundation received two meaningful grants. One grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation means that after 44 years since being added to the National Register of Historic Places, they now have the historic registry sign to go with it.
“Oh, it’s so exciting. We have been working on the restoration for 20 years and I still almost daily have someone saying, ‘I didn’t even know that theater was there. I didn’t even know that building was there,'” said Board President Greg Rowley. “And so this is one more way that we can kind of call people’s attention to it.”
Over the theater’s 131-year history, many stars have graced the stage, including a 21-year-old Grace Kelly. It even hosted Colorado’s first moving picture — using Edison’s Vitascope — in 1896.The Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation was formed in 2002 to raise funds to restore the theater, Colorado’s oldest cultural venue. Its opening season in 1891 predates the State Capitol, and even the Brown Palace Hotel, by one year.
As part of the Lowe’s Hometowns program, The Historic Elitch Theatre also received a $70,000 award earlier this month to paint the building.
“I’ll just tell you one of the reasons we’re so excited for our Lowe’s grant and our historic sign is, for years now, We get search results of this is how people found your website. And for years, the number one term that people used is abandoned buildings near me,” Rowley said. “And so I’m really excited for both this grant from Lowe’s to paint the building and then with our historic sign. And I think we will finally not look like an abandoned building anymore.’
This summer, visitors can enjoy history tours and outdoor films in the home to the oldest summer stock theater in America.